The Concept Of Quality Commerce Essay

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The concept of quality is not new in the business environment. In fact, the concept is as old as humanity itself. Quality Management plays an extremely pivotal role in the success and sustainability of any organisation. The concept of quality has gradually evolved from process and quality control to quality assurance and management. In this regard, every organisation needs a quality program which is unique from that of their competitors, designed and labelled on the general principles of the quality management program. Beinhocker and Kaplan (2002, para.20-2) postulate that the inclusion of a quality program as an integral strategic planning process helps management of organisations to achieve initiatives that are in line with the organisations' business objectives as well as gain a new and creative management approach.

The concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) has received much more attention in the recent past in Ghana as well as other parts of the world. This occurrence is largely attributed to the fierce competiveness, saturation and sophistication of the global markets. The fall out of this phenomenon in Ghana has been the transformation of the traditional way of conducting business into more complex and modern ways. Consequently, a lot more organisations are now focusing on the continuous improvement approach to attain a competitive edge over competitors.

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The term "quality" has been expressed in several ways by different authorities. The Quality Movement was led by authorities such as Deming, Ishikawa, Juran, Feigenbaum, Crosby and Taguchi among others. J.M Juran views quality as "fitness for purpose". Philip Crosby opines that quality is conformance to requirements whilst H. James Harrington refers to quality as meeting or better still exceeding customer expectations at a cost that represents value to them. Deducing from all these explanations, quality can be said to be the totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear upon its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs of customers.

One essential aspect of quality that underpins the various definitions is that quality at its most basic level is defined by the customer or the consumer (Kuratko, Goodale & Hornsby, 2001). It is therefore imperative that in defining quality, the requirements or expectations of the end user be considered. It is also important to establish that the existence and sustainability of a company such as Phoenix Insurance Company Limited depends mainly on its customers. However, it is imperative to indicate that Total Quality Management (TQM) requires changes in organizational structure, positions, responsibilities as well as attitudes. Hence, the pre-occupation of any serious organisation should be to satisfy the requirements of these important stakeholders by putting everything they do. In the contemporary business environment, customers are viewed as major stakeholders and as such are treated as kings and queens.

Total quality management is a philosophy that embraces all aspects of the organization and thereby involving all staff in the delivery of quality products and services to satisfy clients' expectation. In recent times when the markets are so saturated and sophisticated, with competition among insurance companies very keen, it is highly imperative that 21st century insurance companies such as Phoenix Insurance review their operations to suite current standards in order to achieve competitive advantage and one of the ways in which this can be achieved is by deploying the full components, philosophies, tools, techniques and systems associated with total quality management. Mostly, organisations view quality management as a collection of techniques or methods that can be pulled out of a box and implemented haphazardly. But studies have shown that, there are more profound aspects to quality management, which must be considered in its entity if quality management is to be employed successfully within an organization. To this end, it is salient for management to recognize the different methods that the quality of an organisation's products or services can affect the organization and to take into account developing and maintaining quality assurance programs in order to maintain such integrity.

In view of this, the focus of this study will be geared towards the study of the role that total quality management plays in a company's quest to providing quality insurance services for its clients. However, confronting this challenge will require a careful probe into the dynamics of the operations of Phoenix Insurance Company limited.

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Studies have shown that the insurance industry is considered as a business affected by public interest (Crawford, 1998). This is due to the fact that in the event of any mishaps, businesses and society at large are brought to their feet. Jobs which would have been closed down because of such unfortunate disasters like fire, burglary, or general accident would be indemnified and brought back to its former pecuniary position. Insurance can be classified as part of the service industry since is sells products which are not tangible, it is therefore necessary that the client is not only satisfied with the product or service offered but must also be satisfied with the whole service encounter. For this rich customer experience to be possible , companies must institute a strategic approach to providing the best services through a process of continuous improvement of every aspect of the company's operations with the involvement of staff at all levels. And this is what total quality management seeks to do.

The Insurance Industry in Ghana

Until 2008, most insurance companies in Ghana operated as composite companies underwriting both life and non-life policies. However, the enactment of an insurance law empowered the national insurance commission to ensure that all insurance companies split into life companies, and General business companies (National insurance commission Report 2006), this policy coupled with the trade liberalization policies in Ghana led to the incessant influx of Nigerian insurance companies into Ghana . Currently, there are about 40 insurance companies in Ghana, 23 are non-life insurance companies and 17 are life insurance companies (National Insurance Commission Report, 2006). It is salient to indicate at this point that six (6) of these companies are Nigerian owned.

Insurance can be classified as part of a service industry since it sells products which are not tangible, it is therefore necessary that the client is not only satisfied with the product or service offered but must also be satisfied with the whole service encounter. For this rich customer experience to be possible , companies must institute a strategic approach to providing the best services through a strict adherence to quality standards at every level of the company's operations with the involvement of staff at all levels and that is what total quality management (TQM) 0seeks to do. This is why it is pertinent, that an evaluation be made into how Prime Insurance has applied total quality management principles in the delivery of its insurance products. Total quality management (TQM) can be described as a management style that embraces all aspects of the organization and thereby involving all staff in the delivery of quality products and services to satisfy clients expectation. Recently, Kumar et al. (2009) as cited by Al-Swidi and Manhud( (2011 ) defined TQM as the holistic managerial approach that integrates all the organizational activities to satisfy customers' needs and meet their expectations towards achieving overall organizational objectives. Some other researchers defined TQM based on its critical factors. For example, Dean and Bowen (1994) as cited by Al-Swidi and Manhud ( 2011 ) looked at TQM strategy through its principles, including teamwork; continuous improvement; and customer focus practices, it also encompasses customer relationships; process control; and group training and skills, and finally techniques such as quality control and team building techniques.

In recent times, when competition among insurance companies has become very keen, it will be very important that most insurance companies review their operations to suite current standards by applying quality programmes such as Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, Kaizen, and Quality Assurance among others. Hence, this Dissertation seeks to unearth the role that total quality management plays in the insurance industry, focusing on Phoenix Insurance Company Limited.

Research Problem

The author's interest was in assessing the role that total quality management plays in the Company's operations. The Ghanaian insurance industry has often been accused of lack of technical competence, which literally means that the products and services that are offered to clients are of low standard. For an industry like the insurance industry where competitions is so keen due to the increase in the number of insurance companies, organizations who want to remain in business have to embrace all functions of the enterprise. Total quality management (TQM) which is a management philosophy that considers all aspects of the operations in an organization is one of the tools that can be used to enhance an organization's performance. Some well established companies have already taken steps in this direction to ensure that quality standards are ad head to at every level of the organizational setup to give their customer value for money, insurance itself is built on the principle of accessing risk and charging an appropriate premium on the risk so that any mishap can be compensated for, quality therefore can be accessed in terms of good risk assessment and the ability to pay claims when they fall due, and for a company to perform its duties effectively all departments of the organization have to ensure that quality standards are not compromised , At this time when most insurance companies are putting in extra efforts to ensure that the client is always assured of quality it is of necessity that insurance companies assess their system as a whole to ensure that quality standards are not compromised in its operations at all levels This is why a comprehensive study of the role that total quality management plays at Phoenix Insurance was absolutely imperative so that a thorough assessment of how efficient quality management principles are applied at all levels of management in the delivery of products. Additionally, little empirical studies have been conducted in Ghana to investigate the use of total quality management (TQM) in the Ghanaian insurance industry. This has created a huge research gap in the industry with its attended developmental problems.

Objectives of the Study

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This study seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the role that total quality management (TQM) plays in the insurance industry in Ghana. The purpose is to prescribe insightful policy directions for stakeholders' and market players in the industry under review. Hence, the project would undertake the following objectives.

To examine the quality system at Phoenix Insurance Company Limited.

To investigate the main areas of quality concentration.

To assess how the total quality management ( TQM ) systems in place is influenced by the culture of the company

To evaluate the systems that are in place to improve the implementation of total quality management (TQM) in the company.

Research Questions

The following research questions were deemed appropriate to help the researcher to identify the theoretical gabs and also to fulfill the objectives of the study.

What was the client's perception of the delivery of services at Phoenix insurance?

What quality systems and structures have been put in place by management to assure quality in the delivery of insurance products?

What was the perception of workers on the quality system in place?

What policies are in place to improve implementation of TQM in the company?

Significance of the Study

This study brings a special focus on the relevance of total quality management (TQM) principles and philosophies in the insurance industry in Ghana. The primary aim was to find a remedy to the growing complex challenges associated with the industry. More so, very little research work has been done in Ghana, which analyses the use of total quality management practices in the Ghanaian Insurance industry. This study is particularly essential due to the crucial roles insurance plays in the lives of individuals and also the country as a whole. In the case of the individuals when the unforeseen occurs they can fall back on their insurers to help them get back on their feet and on the national scale insurance companies make money available on the capital market to help fund new businesses as well as help old ones to expand which eventually will have a significant impact on the gross domestic product of the country. Moreover, little empirical research have been undertaken on the use of total quality management practices in the Ghanaian insurance industry, hence the significance of a research in this field cannot be over emphasised. The relevance of this study was reinforced by the following:

It provides a domain for policy makers in the insurance industry in Ghana to take pragmatic steps on the perceived needs in the insurance industries in terms of total quality management (TQM).

It also approves and challenge arguments in total quality management (TQM) literature and will provide additional empirical information in this area.

In order to understand the problems associated with the application of total quality management (TQM) at Phoenix insurance , attempts were made to assess the points expressed and examine the extent to which viewpoints are supported by empirical data.

Methodology

Data was obtained from primary and secondary sources primary data was obtained using questionnaire with management staff and customers. Secondary data was obtained from relevant TQM literature. This study used a descriptive survey, the instrument for the staff and the management is a questionnaire based on a 7 point dimension of total quality management variables, the Servpual model was used to gather information on customers' expectations and perceptions

Limitation of the Study

The main limitation of the study emerged after the studies. In the first place, there was limited access to some employees of the focal firm that were originally sampled. This was mainly due to the busy schedules of staff. In some cases, some questionnaires that were administered were never returned. Additionally, this research was limited to the knowledge and experience in total quality management of the researcher .Finally, the study was limited to Phoenix Insurance although reference will be made to other insurance companies.

1.8 Organisation of the Study

Chapter one contains a general introduction and background to the research, chapter two broadly contains the literature review. Chapter three was devoted to the analytical framework of the study as well as in depth discussions on methodology for data collection and analysis. Chapter four was reserved for the presentations of empirical analysis of data from the field of survey. Chapter five wraps up the research by reviewing the main contributions of the research to knowledge and final concluding remarks.

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

Introduction

The concept of quality management has become a ubiquitous practice in modern industry regionally and internationally. Further, quality management is gradually becoming increasingly common in both the public and private service sectors. Thus, more efficient use of resources is required if not demanded by various shareholders of organisations. The drive for total quality management (TQM) has always been at the top of the agenda of many organizations in the private sector to improve quality, productivity, and competitive position (Hunt, 1992). TQM application in the private sector generates for the most part several successful examples (Dobyns & Crawford-Mason, 1991). Since the 1990‟s, TQM has begun to spread far beyond the private sector into the public sector as well (Carr & Littman, 1991). Research has shown the value of quality management presents itself in more than simple gains in revenue or in margins (Anderson et al, 1998). Total Quality Management (TQM) is a philosophical shift in management perspective that refocuses strategic impetus on the internal attributes of an organization (Beckford, 2002).

This research will be focused on ascertaining the role quality management plays among the insurance market competitors and particularly those within Ghana and specifically within Phoenix Insurance Company Limited.

The insurance industry in Ghana

"Insurance is simply a devise whereby many people contribute to a pool, so that a few who suffer a loss may be compensated. It is a promise of reimbursement in the case of loss; paid to people or companies so concerned about hazards that they have made prepayments to an insurance company. (Sebiyam, 2005). In other words, insurance can be described as a risk management tool for coping with uncertainties associated with daily living whose possession gives a known cost to these uncertainties (Nwankwo et al 2009).

Insurance in Ghana can be traced to the colonial era. During this time, the Royal Guardian Enterprise, now known as the Enterprise Insurance Company Limited was established in 1924. Between 1971 and 1978, there were about eighteen companies with the license to operate in the country. Up until this period, the Bank of Ghana was the institution mandated to regulate and supervise the industry. However in 1989, The National Insurance Commission (NIC) was established under Insurance Law 1989 (PNDC Law 227) during the reign of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) (www.eicghana.net). Here again, it is imperative to indicate that the industry now operates under the new Insurance Act, 2006 (Act 724) which is compliant with the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) core principles. (www.nicgh.com). The National Insurance Commission (NIC) website indicates that, as at July 2009, the insurance industry comprised twenty one (21) Non-Life Companies and seventeen (17) Life Companies,.(www.nicgh.com).

The National Insurance Commission has the responsibility of issuing licences to new entrants into the industry, setting the required standards or code of conduct in the industry. Others are the approval of insurance rates, premiums and commissions, serve as a bureau for the amicable resolution of complaints and arbitration of insurance claims in the event of a dispute. In short, Act 724 mandates the commission to ensure effective administration, supervision, regulation and control of the insurance industry in Ghana.

The primary reason individuals and business organisations purchase insurance products is for them to be reimbursed in the event of a disaster such as an accident or any other natural occurrence. Thus, customers who are under cover at the time of the occurrence are indemnified to the state in which they were before the loss occurred. In the case of life policies, the reason is ultimately to assure themselves of a stream of income in the event of a loss of income owing to death or disability.

Over the years, the insurance industry in Ghana made some gains in their attempt to deliver quality products to the insuring public. However, issues such as delays in the payment of claims, continuous sophistication of customers and the changing nature of their needs is certainly a challenge that confronts the industry. Moreover, the industry is yet to fully understand the marketing environment in the country in order to deploy the right strategies to yield desired investment returns.

Quality Defined

Quality is defined as the degree to which a set of characteristics fulfills a requirement (ISO 8402 1994). Authors such as Deming have defined quality as non-faulty systems. Others however view quality from a motivational perspective and insist that quality is conformance to requirements. (Avery & Zabel, 1996). Quality has different meanings to different people in different institutions, public or private, depending on their specific perspective. From the inception of the concept of quality management, there has been no consensus on its definition (Wicks, 2009). One school of thought focuses mainly on quality control. And for them, quality is a way of managing efficiently and effectively. This view is antagonistically opposed to those whose focus is on the customer. They see quality as a way of measuring customer expectations (Whiteley, 1991). In order to measure customer expectations, quality is first defined as "meeting" customer expectations, then "exceeding" customer expectations, and finally as "anticipating" customer needs (Wiggenhorn, 1991: 47). Brady and Cronin (2001) said that quality is not really different from the satisfaction that a consumer can derive from the consumption of that service and hence, satisfaction can serve as a means of measuring quality. Walker and Baker (2000) opined that one of the crucial elements of insurance quality understands of customers' expectation since their expectations serve as a standard against which service performance is measured. Feigenbaum (1991) views quality as the organization's best investment in competitiveness. Laudon and Laundon (1999), also assert that quality can be defined from both producer and customer perspectives. Crosby (1979: 250, 251) however opines that although "quality is free, it‟s not a gift, but it is free." However, it should not be taken as given, because "the cost of quality is the expense of doing things wrong." Therefore it should be clearly defined and understood from ontological, epistemological and practical situations. Only then can the quest for quality be justified.

Garvin, (1980) propounded the eight (8) dimensions of quality. According to Garvin, if these eight dimensions are adhered to, they can serve as a framework for strategic analysis. These eight dimensions include:

Performance - This refers to the primary operating characteristics of a product or service. Thus, how well a product performs its core functions. In the case of a vehicle, these would include handling, acceleration, smoothness of ride, gas mileage, etc.

Conformance - To what extent does the product or service correspond to the specifications or expectations of the customer?

Aesthetic - Refers to the appearance of a product. How a product looks, smells, or tastes.

Special Features- This has to do with the extra characteristic if a service, i.e., the features that supplement the product's basic functions. Examples include compact disc players and digital clock on cars and the free meals offered by airlines. Does the product have adequate auxiliary dimensions that provide secondary benefits?

Reliability - What level of confidence can customers have in a particular product? Thus, what is the probability that given the product will operate within the required period of time, i.e., consistency of performance - does the product ever fail to work?

Durability - This refers to the useful or economic life of a product or service - how long will products last? If repair is possible, durability relates to the length of time a product can used before replacement is judged to be preferable to continued repair.

Serviceability - The ease of repair, speed of repair, and competence and courtesy of the repair staff - is the service system efficient, competent and convenient? That is, handling of complaints or checking on customer satisfaction.

Perceived Quality - This is the perception that influences judgments of quality, i.e., indirect evaluation of quality. Examples include factors such as a firm's reputation and the images of the firm and its products that are created through advertising or in other words, organizational brand image.

It can therefore be said that deployment of quality standards tends to manifest itself in many aspects of an organization provided it is deployed correctly. The result of this phenomenon would be widespread improvements in employee morale which will eventually lead to high employee performance. This way, employees are involved more deeply in the actual processes of the organization. Consequently, this can culminate in greater customer satisfaction as well as customer loyalty metrics which in turn can lead to greater referrals and more repeat businesses that impact directly revenues. Finally, an efficient and effective quality management program can allow management to focus more on strategy development rather than be consumed by organizational minutia. Flynn et al (1994) opines that the fundamentals of quality management are based both on western management thought and on ancient eastern philosophies that combine to make an organization more efficient while instilling a sense of self-direction and responsibility in the employees within the organization.

Total Quality Management (TQM)

After a review of the several literature in relation to Total Quality Management, it has been found that different researchers adopted different TQM definitions and frameworks based on their own understanding of TQM and research objectives. Hence, there appears to be no consensuses on what TQM is and what constitutes it. TQM can be defined as a set of techniques and procedures used to reduce or eliminate variation from a production process or service-delivery system in order to improve efficiency, reliability, and quality (Steingard & Fitzgibbons, (1993). Recently, an empirical case study suggests that TQM is indeed a successful experience in state and local governments due to the fact that it is guided by a leadership commitment and a common organizational vision which "results in significant quantifiable benefits" (Kluse, 2009: 31).

In the federal government, various productivity improvement programs, particularly those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Cohen & Brand, 1990) and the Internal Revenue Service (Chen & Sawyers, 1994), coalesced under the TQM banner (Federal TQM Handbook, 1991, 1992). TQM is the system of activities directed at achieving delighted customers, empowered employees, higher revenues, and lower costs (Juran, 1995). Juran therefore is of the opinion that in most cases, problems relating to quality in organisations are attributable to management rather than workers. The attainment of quality requires activities in all functions of a firm. Firm-wide assessment of quality, supplier quality management, using statistical methods, quality information system, and competitive benchmarking are essential to quality improvement. Juran's approach is emphasis on team (QC circles and self-managing teams) and project work, which can promote quality improvement, improve communication between management and employees coordination and improve coordination between employees. He also emphasized the importance of top management commitment and empowerment, participation, recognition and rewards. Total Quality Management (TQM) can therefore be appropriately explained as a management strategy that focuses on producing quality-centric products or services, concentrating on customer needs, striving to provide a data-driven decision process, and a management environment that stresses continuous improvement (Beckford, 2002).

Juran, like many other scholars agree that it is very important to understand customer needs. This requirement applies to all involved in marketing, design, manufacture, and services. Thus there must be a comprehensive as well as a vigorous analysis in order for firms to understand the needs of their end users. This way, they can provide products and services that do not only meet customer specifications but also fit for its intended purpose. Thus, market research is essential for identifying customers' needs. Juran views quality management as a process in three stages (Juran Trilogy). These include: Quality control, quality improvement, and quality planning. Thus, achieving and sustaining quality includes: The sporadic problem is detected and acted upon by the process of quality control; the chronic problem requires a different process, namely, quality improvement; such chronic problems are traceable to an inadequate quality planning process. Crosby (1984) identifies a number of important principles and practices for a successful quality improvement program, which include, for example, management participation, management responsibility for quality, employee recognition, education, reduction of the cost of quality (prevention costs, appraisal costs, and failure costs), emphasis on prevention rather than after-the-event inspection, doing things right the first time, and zero defects. Moving forward, Crosby claims that mistakes are usually caused by two reasons: Lack of knowledge and lack of attention. Education and training can eliminate the first cause and a personal commitment to excellence (zero defects) and attention to detail will cure the second. Crosby also stressed the importance of management style to successful quality improvement. The key to quality improvement is to change the thinking of top managers-to get them not to accept mistakes and defects, as this would in turn reduce work expectations and standards in their jobs. Understanding, commitment, and communication are all essential. Crosby presents the quality management maturity grid, which organisations can employ to evaluate their quality management maturity levels. The five stages are: uncertainty, awakening, enlightenment, wisdom and certainty. these stages can be used to assess progress in a number of measurement categories such as management understanding and attitude, quality organization status, problem handling, cost of quality as percentage of sales, and summation of firm quality posture. The quality management maturity grid and cost of quality measures are the main tools for managers to evaluate their quality status.

Deming (1984) admonishes management of organisations to employ what he calls fourteen (14) key principles for transforming business effectiveness. These are;

1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs.

2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, organisations must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.

3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place. In effect, effective quality management requires errors to be identified, and corrected, as soon as possible. This is the key to reducing quality costs.

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.

5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease cost.

6. Institute training on the job.

7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.

8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.

9. Break down barriers between departments. Thus, all sectors within the organisation must be cohesive and work as a unit. This way there remains a unity of purpose in efforts to solve problems identified.

10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the workforce.

11. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership. Also, Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute workmanship.

12. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality. Also, remove barriers that robe people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means the abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.

13. Institute of vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's work. Thus, everyone is involved.

Fitzsimmons J.A, and Fitzsimons M.J (2011) also defines Total Quality Management as "an effective system for integrating the quality development, quality maintenance, and quality-improvement efforts of the various groups in a firm so as to enable marketing, engineering, production, and service at the most economical levels which allow for full customer satisfaction". Accordingly, he posits that effective quality management consists of four main stages:

Setting quality standards;

Appraising conformance to these standards;

Acting when standards are not met;

Planning for improvement in these standards.

The quality chain, he argued, starts with the identification of all customers' requirements and ends only when the product or service is delivered to the customer. The customer must however be satisfied with the product or service. The identification of what the customer requires is the first step in achieving quality. He claimed that effective Total Quality Management system requires a high degree of effective functional integration among people, machines, and information, stressing a system approach to quality.

Steingard & Fitzgibbons, (1993).further explain TQM as a continuous process of improvement for individuals, groups of people, and whole firms; it encompasses a set of four principles (delight the customer, management by fact, people-based management, and continuous improvement) and eight core concepts (customer satisfaction, internal customers are real, all work is process, measurement, teamwork, people make quality, continuous improvement cycle, and prevention). Closely linked to this definition is Dean and Bowen (1994) who view Total Quality Management as a philosophy or approach to management that can be characterized by its principles, practices, and techniques. Its three principles are customer focus, continuous improvement, and teamwork. Each principle is implemented through a set of practices, which are simply activities such as collecting customer information or analyzing processes. The practices are, in turn, supported by a wide array of techniques.

The concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) has also been defined more in relation management of an organization and centered on quality. This definition is based primarily on the participation of all members of an organisation and aiming at long-term success through customer satisfaction and benefits to all members of the organization and to society (ISO 8402, 1994). Flynn et al. (1994) defined TQM as "an integrated approach to achieving and sustaining high quality output, focusing on the maintenance and continuous improvement of processes and defect prevention at all levels and in all functions of the firm, in order to meet or exceed customer expectations". Thus Total Quality Management (TQM) is an effort at improving how competitive, flexible and effective a business or an organisation is. It is also a method of becoming lean by involving everyone in improving the way things are done.

Vuppalapati et al. (1995), another authority in the field of quality management defines Total Quality Management (TQM) is an "integrative philosophy of management for continuously improving the quality of products and processes to achieve customer satisfaction". according to these expects the following five interventions are the core of TQM: explicit identification and measurement of customer wants and needs; creation of supplier partnership; use of functional teams to identify and solve quality problems; use of scientific methods to monitor performance and identify points of high leverage for performance improvement; use of process management heuristics to enhance team effectiveness.

Choi and Eboch (1998) studied the TQM paradox using management of process quality, human resources management, strategic quality planning, and information and analysis as the constructs of TQM implementation. Black and Porter (1996) identified ten critical factors of TQM: People and customer management, supplier partnership, communication of improvement information, customer satisfaction orientation, external interface management, strategic quality management, and teamwork structure for improvement, operational quality planning, quality improvement measurement systems, and corporate quality culture. In Powell's 1995 study, the following elements were identified as TQM framework: Executive commitment, adopting the philosophy, closer to customers, closer to suppliers, benchmarking, training, open organization, employee empowerment, zero-defects mentality, flexible manufacturing, process improvement, and measurement.

Walker, J., and Baker, J. (2000) identified eight key TQM elements as: Top management commitment to place quality as a top priority, a broad definition of quality as meeting customers' expectations, TQM values and vision, the development of a quality culture, involvement and empowerment of all organizational members in cooperative efforts to achieve quality improvements, an orientation toward managing-by-fact, the commitment to continuously improve employees' capabilities and work processes through training and benchmarking, attempts to get external suppliers and customers involved in TQM efforts. They further expounded that TQM has into ten elements, they are supplier improvement, process control and improvement, internal customer focus, measurement and reporting, leadership, quality system, participation, recognition, education and training, and external customer focus.

Customers' perception of the insurance industry in Ghana.

Powell T. (1994) defines perception as "the point where cognition and reality meet and perhaps the most basic cognitive activity out of which all others emerge". In other words, perception is a complex process that depends mainly on the experiences a perceiver has in the surrounding world. This process involves organizing and interpreting incoming sensory data to develop an awareness of self and surrounding. Toran, D. (1993) views perception as both the subjective awareness of events occurring in the individual's environment and selectively responding to stimuli in the immediate surroundings. This view is reinforced by Swan. and Comb (1998) observation that expectations influence perception. According to this school of thought, perceivers tend to see what they expect to see, hear the words they expect to hear. Thus, people in different parts of the world perceive environmental stimuli differently Groonroos.C. (1984) opines that perception is the way one regards something and the belief one has about what it is like.

Conclusion

From works of other scholars in the field under review, one can deduce that the concept of Total Quality Management is gradually emerging as one of the most important management philosophies that can be used to strategically position organizations for competitive advantage. Currently, Total Quality Management is one area that is attracting an increasing attention from researchers with much emphasis on different service industries such as health care industry (Macinati, 2008; Øvretveit & Al Serouri, 2006; Yang, 2003), higher education institutions (Cruickshank, 2003; Dahar, Faize, & Niwaz, 2010), and public service organizations (Nor Hazilah, 2004).

Empirically conducted studies have clearly established a relationship between organisational performance and Total Quality Management (TQM). However, Al Mansour (2007) has argued that the application of Total Quality Management especially within the service industry requires a more robust and modified models that are compatible with the service organisation in order to reap the utmost potential benefits.

This chapter has been critically examining literature relating to the topic under discussion.